As I described in a recent article, Grandparent’s Guide to Teaching Gun Safety, I repurposed my garage as a BB gun range to introduce my grandkids to safe shooting. One critical part of that is creating a safe backstop, otherwise known as a pellet trap. Pellet guns aren’t toys, and the projectiles can penetrate skin as well as ricochet off certain hard surfaces, so if you’re shooting indoors, backstops are important. The good news is it’s actually quite simple and inexpensive to construct a backstop out of things you have lying around your house! (Keep in mind that this only applies to lower-powered BB guns, not rimfire or centerfire firearms, and that you and your grandkids should be wearing eye protection at all times.)
Making a practical year-round pellet range in my garage did require some experimentation. Eventually, the right frame appeared in the form of the box in which a steel firepit I’d purchased was delivered. That box, which measured roughly 3’x3’x1, was the perfect size and depth. Why the huge box? As parents and grandparents, we know shooters sometimes miss the mark! With a child in training that goes double.
Now it was time to pack the box with some time-tested BB stoppers. I broke down some other boxes to get layers of cardboard. I started with two 2 layers of cardboard, then two old towels, then repeated this until the box was packed full. To add effectiveness, I used 2” Gorilla Tape to tightly pull it together. Then I shot at the center with a pellet rifle … and nothing emerged out the back. Success! After a few more test shots, it was ready to be secured on a 2-foot-high platform in the corner of my garage. This worked well, but then I saw how the front of my box was getting torn up, so I made more improvements.
I decided that what I needed was not one box, but three. I took two smaller boxes (one 2’x2’ and one 17”x22”) and created a “Russian nesting doll” arrangement. Each of the smaller boxes I packed with heavy cardboard and an old towel, then secured it with wide Gorilla Tape to the front of the large box. The old heavy towel slows down the pellet, but doesn’t cause any to bounce out the front. Done!
Here is a tip about targets. These I made by putting a ½-inch black circle in the center of a piece of paper, along with places for data as to gun, pellet, shooter, etc., then I photocopied it. I also made other targets with the center being 3/4 inch, 1-inch, 2 inches and upwards. Using scoped air guns, the grandkids get much better groups out of the target with the smallest dot. My special Pappy sense tells me that it’s because the small dot makes them concentrate. Good luck … and those kids will always appreciate you taking the time to safely train them.